Binge-Worthy Travel TV Shows and Documentaries
Even if you have not been an avid world traveler before, by now you may be dreaming of jetting off to anywhere that isn’t your living room, the kitchen or the den. Or you may be searching for suggestions for those first post-pandemic trips you vow to book once this is all over.
For now, passports must stay in drawers and suitcases in closets, but a wide variety of TV series and documentaries can take you around the world.
Our starter list includes shows that will appeal not only to novice and experienced travelers, but also to fans of food, mysteries, reality TV and history. So, you may be able to entice or “fool” your partner, kids or roommates into bingeing a series or two with you.
In some cases, just figuring out where to watch these shows may be part of the adventure. Some may be available to stream free from your library or on YouTube, while others may be available on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or another free or paid subscription streaming service.
And once you get started watching shows with an eye to travel, you’ll realize that the filming locations of TV series such as “The Crown,” “Outlander,” “Killing Eve,” and even “Grey’s Anatomy” can be as much of a draw as the plots.
Samantha Brown’s Places to Love
With a charming, inquisitive and approachable manner, Samantha Brown’s public television show, “Places to Love,” introduces viewers to chefs, artists, craftspeople and those-in-the-know in cities around the world. From Montreal, Canada to Huntsville, Alabama and the Florida Keys, these destinations are “do-able” and diverse, but certainly more intriguing once Brown arrives and starts exploring.
Watch it on the Samantha Brown Places to Love website.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and No Reservations
Through his CNN “Parts Unknown” series and on the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” and “The Layover” series, the late chef, best-selling author and world traveler Anthony Bourdain gives viewers a deep dive into the food, the culture, the customs and often the local politics of both well-known and out-of-the-way destinations.
Don’t miss the episode of Bourdain sharing a beer and an informal, inexpensive meal with former President Barack Obama in Hanoi, Vietnam, or the episode filmed in Seattle.
The Amazing Race
Since 2001, fans of reality TV shows, wacky competitions and, of course, travel have been tuning in to this show that pits eleven quirky teams of two against each other in a race around the world. Contestants deal with roadblocks, puzzles and all manner of physical and cultural challenges while viewers learn a great deal about the locations the show visits.
On “Expedition Unknown,” fans of archeology, history and adventure will enjoy following host Josh Gates to far-flung corners of the world to investigate mysteries and legends such as the Bermuda Triangle, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, vampires, Robin Hood, hidden treasures of all sorts and more.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
To explain how and why salt, fat, acid and heat are so essential to cooking and great eating, Chef Samin Nosrat, author of the best-selling “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking,” takes us with her to Japan, Italy, Mexico and Berkeley, California. The yummy four-part series tours markets, fields, farms, oceans and kitchens for inspiration, exploration and instruction.
Watch on Netflix.
Our Planet and Planet Earth
The BBC’s series “Planet Earth” and “Our Planet,” both narrated by David Attenborough, offer visually stunning and incredibly photographed stories of the natural world around us. Oceans, forests, deserts, jungles, mountains, plants and animals large and small get the extreme close-up treatment, as do the challenges they face.
–Written by Harriet Baskas